Vaccines for children: When could they be given in NYC?

Coronavirus

Anaiya Layland, 12, receives her first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination as her mother, Ashlesha Patel, observes at the Cook County Public Health Department, Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Des Plaines, Ill. (AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar)

NEW YORK — New York City could begin offering COVID-19 vaccines for children as early as next week, as long as federal regulators grant emergency authorization, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.

Advisers with the Food and Drug Administration have begun deliberating whether there’s enough evidence that Pfizer’s kid-size dose is safe and effective for 5- to 11-year-olds.

De Blasio said if the FDA and CDC conclude that the vaccine is safe, his administration will begin rolling out its vaccination plan for that age group.

“As you’re going to hear from the doctors, we’re looking at late next week or the week after, and that’s fantastic,” he said. “We’re getting ready and excited, and I think there’s going to be a whole lot of energy among parents to bring their younger kids in.”

The mayor said vaccination sites across the city are prepared and he’s considering what role schools will play as well.

“We have a lot of sites ready as always, and we’re certainly going to consider what we need to do in our schools as well. But we may be starting this on a weekend, depending on the details,” he said.

Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said since the CDC won’t take up the emergency use authorization request until next week at the earliest, the potential timeline for a rollout in New York City would be the “very end of next week,” but more likely it would be the following week.

“But regardless of the precise date we have been and will continue to prepare between now and then to make sure that as the mayor said, all of our sites will be ready. And people have the information that they need for this to be a safe and effective addition to our vaccination campaign,” Chokshi added.

A study of elementary schoolchildren found the Pfizer shots are nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection — even though the youngsters received just a third of the dose given to teens and adults.

In a preliminary analysis last week, FDA reviewers said that protection would “clearly outweigh” the risk of a very rare side effect in almost all scenarios of the pandemic. Now FDA’s advisers are combing through that data to see if they agree.

While children are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 than older people, 5- to 11-year-olds still have faced substantial illness — including over 8,300 hospitalizations, about a third requiring intensive care, and nearly 100 deaths, FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks told the advisory panel.

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